Mint green text on deep blue background, reads: National Council on Disability COVID-19 letter to HHS Office for Civil Rights

National Council on Disability COVID-19 letter to HHS Office for Civil Rights

March 18, 2020

Roger Severino
Director, Office for Civil Rights
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington DC 20201

Dear Mr. Severino:

On behalf of the National Council on Disability (NCD), I write on a matter of urgency regarding non-discriminatory access to life-saving medical care for people with disabilities who contract COVID-19. Due to the concerns detailed in this letter regarding the predicted impact of COVID-19 on people with existing medical conditions coupled with predicted rationing of life-saving care, NCD requests that the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) quickly issue a notice to physicians and hospitals specifying the applicability of non-discrimination requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act in making treatment decisions. When OCR talks, the medical community listens, and OCR has a window of opportunity now, before physicians become overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients, to provide necessary information to the medical community about the provision of non-discriminatory care.

Current projections show that the need for intensive medical care for victims of COVID-19 will far exceed the resources of the US healthcare system, and medical professionals are already predicting the certainty that emergency and intensive care will have to be rationed. The lack of resources to treat the population who will contract COVID-19 creates a deadly outlook for people with disabilities.  This is not hyperbole – the people most susceptible to COVID-19 have medical conditions, e.g., weakened immune systems, heart disease, diabetes – exactly the people who will be most impacted by emergency or intensive care rationing. Physicians will have to make decisions on who will get life-saving care, and who will not.

Unfortunately, as OCR knows, people with chronic illnesses and other disabilities have been  left behind, denied resources to survive, and as a result, have suffered great losses of life because of lack of emergency preparation that respects every life, and by outright discrimination by medical practitioners who, through ignorance of the law or due to the belief that people with disabilities are less valuable, and therefore less deserving of medical care, than those who are not. Such prejudice has fed into the belief that people with disabilities, especially the most weak and vulnerable, should be put out of their misery. NCD opposes these views and any medical actions that implicitly and explicitly disregard the dignity of the lives of people with disabilities. These beliefs have always been dangerous – but COVID-19 raises NCD’s concerns to an unprecedented level.

OCR is aware of the historic and persistent discrimination against people with disabilities in healthcare. We documented this issue in our recent reports on bioethics and disability, explaining that the lives of persons with disabilities continue to be devalued in the medical profession due to pervasive negative biases and inaccurate assumptions. The belief that people with disabilities have a lesser quality of life and are less valuable to society, has led to deadly consequences – physicians choosing to provide medically scarce resources to non-disabled or healthier people – a violation of human rights, civil rights and a reinforcement of the belief that people with disabilities are lesser-than and less deserving of life itself.[1] Indeed, recent articles regarding the likely response to COVID-19 published by major media outlets are already predicting – unapologetically – that the lack of capacity of the US healthcare system is going to result in rationing of life-saving care for people with chronic illnesses and pre-existing disabilities.[2] Such discourse  has deep historical foundations that has led to discrimination and access to healthcare, including life-saving care, for people disabilities throughout the nation’s history. Once again, society, including physicians, is already accepting the conclusion that this group will be denied the right to life due to a lack of resources. Once again, it is a forgone conclusion that people with disabilities are the most expendable group. Once again, as in previous natural disasters and medical crises, people with disabilities are being told to prepare to die.

OCR has recognized the long-standing discrimination against people with disabilities, taking action to address discrimination on a case by case basis, but the world has changed – we are experiencing a quickly progressing medical crisis which will disproportionately impact people with disabilities on a broad scale. OCR should rapidly head off what could be yet another time in US history when people with disabilities are left to die because medical decisions remain infused with disability bias or because physicians are not aware of their responsibilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Affordable Care Act. More evidence of the need for immediate OCR action is found in a cursory review of State protocols for standards of medical care for times of crisis – like a pandemic – that show that people with existing disabilities will be, if the plans remain the same, discriminated against in the provision of COVID-19 care.[3]

Because this historic pandemic disproportionately threatens the lives of people with disabilities, NCD strongly urges OCR to immediately issue a notice to the nation’s medical providers of their obligations for non-discriminatory medical care under the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and the Affordable Care Act. The notice should include a statement on the historic and deep-seated biases and stereotypes about people with disabilities that have resulted in eugenics and lack of life-saving care, ask physicians to be mindful of this when making medical treatment decisions, and make clear that, even in an environment where health care resources are limited, the civil rights of people with disabilities cannot be suspended or limited.

Thank you for your work to ensure access to medical care for all people and your efforts to address disability discrimination in health care. OCR’s efforts have improved the lives of people with disabilities and your leadership is valued and appreciated.

If you wish to discuss this with me directly I would be delighted to do that at your convenience. However, if a member of your team would like to discuss this with a member of my team please have them contact Lisa Grubb, Executive Director and CEO at lgrubb@ncd.gov, Joan Durocher, General Counsel and Director of Policy at jdurocher@ncd.gov, and  Ana Torres-Davis, Senior Attorney-Advisor at  attoresdavis@ncd.gov.

Respectfully,

Neil Romano
Chairman

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End the Atrocities at Border Detention Facilities

The World Institute on Disability (WID) joins with organizations and individuals from across the country calling for an end to the atrocities being committed at south Texas detention facilities, more accurately called concentration camps or, at minimum, internment camps as addressed in the July report of the Office of the Inspector General from the US Department of Homeland Security. The degree of inhumanity on display is frightening and devastating.

We respectfully request that the Commission immediately conduct a comprehensive in loco visit to the United States and Mexico to consider actions and policies by both States that are having dramatic negative impacts on the human rights of migrants, particularly asylum-seeking Central Americans who transit through Mexico to reach the United States. We ask that the visit be followed by a report that considers the full extent of human rights violations experienced by migrants in Mexico and the United States. We further request that, after this visit, the Commission engage in ongoing, robust monitoring of the treatment of migrants in the region. This monitoring should include hearings before the Commission during its sessions, additional visits to the region—including the southern border of Mexico and Central America—, development of standards relating to the treatment of migrants “safe third country” and prompt consideration of precautionary measures requests and individual complaints.

WID believes that the mistreatment of asylum-seekers at the border is related to a broader cultural decay that has taken root in US society.

The Nonprofit Quarterly states, “We could cite many examples. The revealing of sexist and racist posts by customs officials on Facebook is one obvious example. We also recall that it was less than two years ago when Nazis openly marched in the streets in Charlottesville.”

And, where in all this inhumane process is the inclusion of people with disabilities in receiving much-needed services and/or medical care? When over 20% of the world’s population has a disability, people being held forcibly at our southern border are disproportionally more likely to have a disability or to acquire a disabling condition as a result of their treatment placing them in much need of disability-related services and justice.

WID joins our “civil society partners in knowing we must declare racial superiority as antithetical” to our common humanity and that our leadership supports racial, disability and economic justice in our organizations, our communities and in society as a whole.

WID demands that immigrants with disabilities be given rights granted under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), be evaluated for their access needs and receive effective and timely service.

Comments on this statement may be directed to Anita S. Aaron, Executive Director/CEO, World Institute on Disability, anita@wid.org.

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A futuristic robot thinking, surrounded by math equations

AI AND ACCESSIBILITY

Artificial Intelligence (AI) or artificial narrow intelligence (ANI), artificial general intelligence (AGI), artificial super intelligence (ASI) is a critical issue for people with disabilities and it will only grow in its impact. The World Institute on Disability (WID) is aware that AI has already brought many remarkable tools to disability access and inclusion; what has already been achieved illuminates the promise that AI can facilitate more accessible content for people with disabilities.

For example, software is now learning how to recognize and respond to images, sounds, and linguistic expressions, which have opened up new opportunities for people with many disabilities. When the data sets used are designed for full inclusion, tools like those outlined below will positively change the landscape for people with disabilities:

  • For individuals who are deaf or have hearing loss, auto-captioning with AI.
  • For people who are unable to drive, autonomous cars built with Universal Design principles.
  • For people who are blind or have low vision, facial recognition and image recognition to support interaction with the environment.
  • For people with cognitive disabilities, language use to facilitate comprehension.
  • For job seekers with disabilities, with an unemployment rate of more than twice their non-disabled peers, outcomes can change with the development of accessible and intelligent AI solutions which will support job seekers and employees in developing their professional skills, improve workplace culture and expand inclusive hiring.

The concerns of WID, many corporations and public and private sector organizations focus on the critical need for AI standards for privacy, ethics and bias so that full inclusion of persons with disabilities in the evolution of AI occurs. Many of us foresee compounded risks of AI use unless there is commitment to and prioritization of privacy, ethics and bias.  For example:

  • Models learning from biased data may reproduce and continue historical biases;
  • Training data may under represent outlier populations, which often include people with disabilities, and therefore thwart or deny full inclusion;
  • Building inclusive data sets will prove essential for developing effective solutions, but also hold challenges such as requiring people to waive privacy rights;
  • Data collection, machine learning training protocols and programming may not include representation from individuals with disabilities or professionals in the field with the appropriate knowledge to plan for full inclusion; and,
  • Safety, security, bias and accessibility may be a lower priority than speed.

So, while AI is a great opportunity, it is also a great threat to full inclusion for people with disabilities.  Most researchers, accessibility experts, and disability rights organizations agree that building inclusive data sets is one of the greatest challenges for researchers and that AI accessibility should be a base level requirement for AI standards.

WID also recommends that persons with expertise in disability culture and accessibility be engaged early in the AI standards development, as well as those with expertise in recognizing and addressing implicit bias and those who can set guidance for developing inclusive data sets.  Inclusion of those with appropriate expertise will go far to achieve full inclusion of persons with disabilities in future data sets.

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WID Supports the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act

Statement from Anita Shafer Aaron, WID Executive Director/CEO

Feb 01, 2019, Berkeley, CA

On January 31, Rep. Bobby Scott, Sen. Bob Casey, and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers introduced the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act, which provides states, service providers, sub-minimum wage certificate holders, and other agencies with the resources to help workers with disabilities transition into competitive, integrated employment. This legislation is designed to strengthen and enhance the disability employment service delivery systems throughout states, while sub-minimum wages- currently allowed under Section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act-are to be phased out over a six-year period.

The World Institute on Disability (WID) supports this legislation. We are strongly committed to competitive, integrated employment in mainstream environments for people with disabilities and further that they receive fair and equitable wages for their work.

The employment rate for people with disabilities has been flat for over forty years (hovering around 33%) and many of those who are employed are in sub-minimum wage jobs. It is time to promote legislation that intends to make people with disabilities an equal and included part of the American labor pool.

WID’s mission in communities and nations worldwide is to eliminate barriers to full social integration and increase employment, economic security, and health care for persons with disabilities. WID’s signature program-WID E3-addresses the need for integrated, competitive employment options for people with disabilities.

Employment & Economic Empowerment

The Labor Force Participation Rate for the general public is 77%. For people with disabilities, that rate has been hovering around 33% for the last 40+ years. This is in spite of 40+ years of numerous employment initiatives, laws, and programs created to promote people with disabilities entering the workforce. The question is: what’s missing?

The American labor pool-which includes captains of industry, business owners, employees, and prospective job seekers-needs a “first-step” educational effort designed to improve both the competitive employment expectations and knowledge of people with disabilities. WID E3 is such an effort.

WID E3 offers online resources and technical assistance designed to improve competitive employment outcomes for both youth and adults with disabilities. WID E3 fills the gap between where people might be and where other programs usually start. It is basic training, and when implemented, it’s a bridge.

WID E3 logo-a white Globe and E3 in white letters

The Employment Empowerment module creates a new disability employment perspective and teaches fundamental competitive employment skills. This instruction builds self-confidence and the knowledge necessary to become a competitive job applicant and employee who happens to have a disability.

The Economic Empowerment module shares new asset development and financial planning strategies, including the book EQUITY: Asset Building Strategies for People with Disabilities, A Guide to Financial Empowerment, developed by WID’s internal financial specialists. This section of WID E3 also offers a comprehensive guide for ABLE accounts to help people with disabilities navigate the ABLE program and plan for the future.

The Benefits Empowerment module offers disability benefits planning, training, and resources, including state-specific Disability Benefits 101 (DB101) online tools. Understanding the impact on federal and state benefits allows for accurate, informed decision-making about employment.

The goals of the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act can be achieved with the Employment and Economic Empowerment programs WID has developed, and we are confident these tools will assist the workforce as a whole in becoming an inclusive, integrated space for employees with disabilities.

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HLAA Convention 2018

WID staff member, Josephine Schallehn, attended the 2018 Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) convention. The following are her highlights of the event.

This year, I had the opportunity to attend the annual Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) convention in Minneapolis, MN, which offers myriad educational workshops on hearing loss, in addition to showcasing the latest technology and services for people with hearing loss. And needless to say, all presentations were real-time captioned, and the presentation rooms were looped, so attendees could listen to the workshops using the T-coil setting on their hearing aids or cochlear implants. (Learn more about loops here.)

A man speaks to the audience, captions onscreen to his right, an ASL interpreter woman to his left
The research symposium, “Listening in Noise,” with Andrew Oxenham, M.D. moderating and presenting | Photo by WID

One of the highlights of the convention was attending the research symposium, which focused on current and future approaches to one of the most vexing and frustrating issues that people with hearing loss encounter: how to listen and understand speech in noisy environments, a challenge that is also often referred to as the “cocktail noise problem.” Five experts from various fields represented on current research that may improve the circuitry used in hearing aids and cochlear implants to reduce/cancel noise. While the presentations were extremely informative and valuable and made excellent use of combining auditory and visual materials, they were nevertheless quite scientific. And the total length of the symposium was three hours.

Luckily, HLAA hosted an excellent one-hour webinar in August that succinctly recapped the crucial points presenters had made and how their research and findings may impact future development of hearing aids and cochlear implants. The consumer-friendly webinar can be replayed at any time, and it even includes a version of one of my favorite short videos shown during the symposium, i.e., a dancing outer hair cell.  The link to the webinar also allows for downloading the PDF used during the webinar.

Three people stand onstage and hold an award
Barbara Kelly of HLAA (center) with the rep from Galapro to her left and Kyle Wright from The Shubert Organization to her right | Photo by HLAA

“Radical Hospitality: Technology Solutions for Audience Inclusivity” was the other highlight and a total surprise at that because if The Shubert Organization and Galapro hadn’t been one of the awardees honored during the opening session of the convention, I wouldn’t have found out about how the app Galapro was developed. And I also wouldn’t have changed my workshop selection for Saturday morning and enjoyed a very informative and funny presentation given by Kyle Wright, Director of Digital Projects at The Shubert Organization.

The Shubert Organization, which owns the majority of theaters on Broadway, uses the Galapro to make live theater and opera performances accessible to everyone.  Theatergoers can download Galapro’s app to their own mobile devices and access subtitles in multiple languages, audio descriptions, closed captioning, and amplification during the performance. I haven’t been to a live performance in decades because, as a hard-of-hearing individual, not being able to follow a live performance is a major concern for me. However, Galapro promises to make live performances accessible to all. Most theaters and live performance venues likely have not heard about Galapro, and here is an excellent advocacy opportunity to let them know that the app exists by pointing them to The Shubert Organization and Kyle Wright if they are interested in finding out what is involved in bringing this cost-effective, mobile, and simple solution to their venues.

A crowded room with several presentation screens, an ASL interpreter, and captioning on the screens
One of the workshops | Photo by WID

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Job Announcement: Projects Coordinator

Note: This position has been filled. Thank you for your interest.

ABOUT WID:

The World Institute on Disability (WID) is an internationally recognized nonprofit public policy center. WID’s mission, in communities and nations worldwide, is to eliminate barriers to full social integration and increase employment, economic security, and health care for persons with disabilities. WID creates innovative programs and tools; conducts research, public education, training, and advocacy campaigns; and provides technical assistance.

Currently WID operates with a staff of 10 employees, a variety of interns and volunteers, and numerous partners and collaborators; with corporate headquarters located at the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley, California. Since its founding in 1983, WID has earned a reputation for high-quality research and public education on a wide range of issues. The Board of Directors and staff, over half of whom are people with disabilities, are respected national leaders in the disability rights field as well as in industry, government, and social services. This enables WID to bring a cross-disability perspective to the policy arena. Information on WID’s programs can be found at www.wid.org.

POSITION SUMMARY:

The Projects Coordinator position directly supports the Director of Operations and the daily operations of the agency by responding to information and referral requests, assisting in WID front office/reception area related duties and providing reasonable accommodation upon request to staff with disabilities. Additionally, this position will be trained to be a researcher to proctor and work on WIDs disability usability testing program. This position assists in special event planning, including event logistics, registration, and donor acknowledgements. This position assists in the development and distribution of website, print, video and social media communication collateral. In addition, the Projects Coordinator will be assigned to various contract/grant project work that includes research and service initiatives.

HOURS:

40 hours per week

MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS:

  • Experience using MS Office Suite, dropbox, Gmail and the Internet
  • Professional writing and oral communication skills
  • Experience using office equipment and phones
  • Friendly, conscientious, organized, detail oriented, punctual
  • Works well independently, takes initiative
  • Quick learner, ability to problem solve
  • Ability to travel for project related assignments 

PREFERENCES: 

  • Experience creating PowerPoint documents and visual presentations of complex data
  • Experience using Internet sites to efficiently arrange, purchase and track multiple travel itineraries
  • Experience proofreading, formatting and mailing newsletter articles using email campaign software such as MailChimp
  • Experience with online survey software (such as Survey Gizmo) and data analysis
  • Experience with content management systems, WordPress experience preferable
  • Video production experience preferred
  • Experience with event planning and marketing
  • Knowledge of and/or personal experience with Independent Living history and philosophy
  • Experience performing personal assistance services to people with disabilities

REPORTING RELATIONSHIP:

Director of Operations

STATUS:  

Non-Exempt, full-time, benefits

COMPENSATION:

$40,000.00 annual salary

APPLICATION PROCESS:

Send Resume, Cover letter and References to: World Institute on Disability

EMAIL: kat@wid.org (WID acknowledges receipt of applications by email only)

Application Deadline: June 29, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. PDT

Proposed Start Date: Mid-July

REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS:

  • Address reasonable accommodation requests for the application/interview process to kat@wid.org.
  • WID promotes a scent/chemical free environment. To support this effort, WID asks that all applicants refrain from wearing scented products while in its office.

TRAVEL/RELOCATION:

WID cannot cover the cost of travel or relocation, but encourages all interested applicants to apply.

The World Institute on Disability is an equal opportunity employer with a commitment to diversity. Individuals will not be discriminated against regardless of race, ethnicity, religion (creed), national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability or veteran status, and other personal characteristics.

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Several open books, piled on top of each other with pencils resting inside

Empowering People with Disabilities to Achieve their Financial Goals with TD Bank

The topic of financial empowerment has increasingly influenced economic discourse in recent years, as a growing number of Americans experience financial insecurity. One particular group of Americans, however, receives nominal attention when it comes to financial empowerment and these are individuals with disabilities.

Research shows that providing people of all abilities and backgrounds with the financial knowledge, tools, access and resources they need to make better financial decisions is not only a social good, it’s also economically expedient, increasing labor participation, while reducing costly government benefits.

In their ground-breaking work, Financial Literacy and Economic Outcomes: Evidence and Policy Implications, Mitchell and Lusardi suggest that nearly one-third of wealth inequality can be explained by the financial-knowledge gap. According to the authors, this gap could increase as consumers confront ever-more sophisticated financial products and services.

Given that around 56.7 million people — 19 percent of the population – have a disability, according to the 2010 census; nearly 16 million Americans with a disability age 25 or older have at least some college education; and over two million have annual incomes over $50,000 (more here), providing financial education and access to people with disabilities is vital to facilitating a healthier, more inclusive economy.

Illuminating a history of invisibility

People with disabilities have faced economic exclusion throughout history, largely owing to discriminatory attitudes and policies. And 28 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, individuals with disabilities continue to battle against rampant societal and institutionalized bias.

Frequently stereotyped as unproductive and/or costly to accommodate, individuals with disabilities have suffered higher rates of unemployment along with lower levels of income and savings.

A 2015 survey from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s Investor Education Foundation shows that people with disabilities reported lower scores on a financial literacy test than their non-disabled counterparts (44% vs. 53% average) and had lower self-perceived levels of financial knowledge (70% vs. 81%). People with disabilities are also more than twice as likely to find it “very difficult” to cover expenses and bills (23% vs. 9%), and twice as likely to be unbanked (12% vs. 6%), according to leading research.

Exacerbating the equity gap, many government disability benefit programs cap savings at $2,000, a clear disincentive for individuals with disabilities to become financially self-sufficient.

Addressing this inequity demands a radical shift in public perception along with educational tools and opportunities that empower individuals with disabilities to lead more independent and productive lives.

The power of progress

Thanks to growing awareness around the economic advantages of financial empowerment, the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act is one of a handful of progressive policies that is enabling individuals with disabilities to save money for the first time in history, without jeopardizing their Federal benefits.  Governmental agencies, nonprofits and purpose-driven banks (including TD Bank, Bank of America, Citi and others) have begun introducing programs and services to better serve current and future customers with disabilities.

In fact, TD Bank recently launched an Adaptive Financial Education program that offers a variety of on-site seminars along with interactive tools, tutorials and games that enable “individuals with diverse abilities” and their caregivers to navigate their financial lives more independently and successfully. This program teaches the fundamentals of banking to a segment of people that has been woefully underserved.

As a direct consequence of these new policies and programs, individuals with disabilities are able to work more and save more, eliminate overdraft fees, and improve their credit scores. They are purchasing more homes, establishing college savings plans for themselves and their children, and leading more fulfilling lives.

Given this trend, I can’t wait to see the 2020 census results.

Of this I am sure: When we, as a country, financially empower people with disabilities, we create a more vibrant and inclusive economy for all.

Written by Thomas Foley, J.D., Managing Director of the World Institute on Disability; published on the WID website April 16, 2018.

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Job Announcement: Executive Secretary to the Executive Director and Board of Directors

Note: This position has been filled. Thank you for your interest.

ABOUT WID:

The World Institute on Disability (WID) is an internationally recognized nonprofit public policy center. WID’s mission in communities and nations worldwide is to eliminate barriers to full social integration and increase employment, economic security and health care for persons with disabilities. WID creates innovative programs and tools; conducts research, public education, training and advocacy campaigns and provides technical assistance.

Currently, WID operates with a staff of 12 employees, many collaborators, consultants, interns and regular volunteers and is located at the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley, California. Since its founding in 1983, WID has earned a reputation for high-quality research and public education on a wide range of issues. The board of directors and staff, over half of whom are people with disabilities, are respected national leaders in the disability rights field, as well as in industry, government and social services. This enables WID to bring a cross-disability perspective to the policy arena. Information on WID’s programs can be found at www.wid.org.

DESCRIPTION:

The goal of the Executive Secretary to the Executive Director and Board of Directors position is to enable the work of the board and executive director to occur in a smooth and seamless manner to support WID’s ability to carry out its mission. This position provides support to the WID Board of Directors and Executive Director by working at the direction of and in conjunction with the Executive Director, focusing on resource development, communications and public relations.

POSITION SUMMARY:

Support to Board of Directors

  • Prepare agendas and write, draft or gather briefing materials for quarterly and special board and committee meetings;
  • Schedule meetings of the Executive Director and various board committees and members;
  • Handle travel arrangements for board members and the Executive Director as needed;
  • Handle all reasonable accommodation requests by board members and Executive Director;
  • Attend, in person or by phone, board and executive committee meetings. Write and publish minutes. Maintain corporate minute book and electronic files;
  • Plan and carry out meeting preparations and logistical arrangements, including meeting locations, hotel sites, transportation companies, restaurants and audio/visual companies as needed;
  • Manage communication with board members on resource development activities;
  • Update board website when website is complete;
  • Prepare action items and follow up after each meeting;
  • Plan annual Board Orientation and Continuing Education programs for directors;
  • Draft appropriate correspondence for Chairperson and/or Executive Director;
  • Prepare briefing papers, outlines, Chairperson’s agenda, etc. for Chairperson;
  • Manage annual request to board members for completion of conflicts of interest statements;
  • Plan committee calendar and timing of meetings for standing and ad hoc committees;
  • Attend, by phone, committee meetings. Write and publish minutes or summarize meetings for consent calendar;
  • Follow up with committee chairs/members on action items; and
  • Prepare written advance materials for reporting to the Board of Directors.

Support to Executive Director

  • Provide reasonable accommodation support to Executive Director as needed;
  • Manage calendar, travel arrangements, appointments, etc.;
  • Assist with material development associated with grant proposals, partnering agreement, letters of intent and collaboration;
  • Oversee the management of contact lists associated with resource development and fundraising activities such as special events, mailings, donor correspondence, etc.;
  • Develop an annual calendar of events related to board meetings, WID special events and grants submissions and reporting, including all timelines for all activities associated with these items;
  • Serve as editor and publicist of WID publications, reports, proposals, etc.; and
  • Other duties as assigned by the Executive Director to successfully support the agenda of the organization.

LOCATION:

The position is intended to be carried out remotely with standardized hours in relation to the Pacific Time Zone.

MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS:

  • Strong writing skills, including composition and proofreading;
  • Strong oral communication skills;
  • Highly organized and detail oriented; and
  • Associate of Arts degree with a minimum of three years of experience working with boards and executive leadership in an administrative assistant or executive secretary role.

PREFERENCES: 

  • Bachelors of Arts degree; and
  • Personal or professional experience with the Independent Living Movement.

REPORTING RELATIONSHIP:

Executive Director

STATUS:

Non-Exempt, Part-Time

COMPENSATION:

$25-$30/hour for an average of 30 hours/week (some flexibility in time required), plus benefits

APPLICATION PROCESS:

Send resume, cover letter, writing sample and references to: kat@wid.org
RE: Secretary for the Board of Directors and Executive Director Search

Headquarters:

World Institute on Disability
3075 Adeline Street, Suite 155
Berkeley, CA  94703

Proposed Start Date:

March 1, 2018, or when filled

REASONABLE ACCOMMODATIONS:

  • Address reasonable accommodation requests for the application/interview process to the Human Resources office (kat@wid.org); and
  • WID promotes a scent/chemical free environment. To support this effort, WID asks that all applicants refrain from wearing scented products while in its office.

TRAVEL/RELOCATION:

WID cannot cover the cost of travel or relocation but encourages all interested applicants to apply.

All persons—including people with disabilities, elders, women, and people of racial and ethnic minority—are encouraged to apply.

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CES 2018

WID staff member, Kat Zigmont, attended the 2018 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. The following is her report on the event.

A collage of three photos: Anita Aaron being guided through the accessibility section of the exibit floor, CES 2018 Whoa logo, Kat Standing in front of large CES sign.

Accessibility Services

At the CES 2018 convention, we had excellent service from the Accessibility Services team. We were informed that there were eight sighted guides working at any given time. The service was friendly, flexible, and accommodating to the needs of the convention participants.

FeedbackInformation & Accessibility Services Desk at CES 2018

As a first time participant at CES, I was unprepared for the size and number of venues, as well as the amount of people and vendors. I found the accessibility group that was there with me to review products very helpful and communicative with regards to their strategy on making their way through the event and giving tips on interesting things to see.

Trends

In the vision loss area, there were many versions of glasses and/or glasses attachments that assisted in seeing text and navigation. I found that there were various grades of the same type of products; some had much more advanced technology than others, such as a product that was wireless and small versus a similar product that was wired and a bit clunky.

Highlights

I have put an asterisk (*) near my favorite products listed below.

Visited Booths

Vision Loss

*American Printing House (APH) – Graphiti

www.aph.org

APH had a new product, Graphiti, which was touch interfacing using variable-height pins. With this device, the user can view graphics imputed via a USB, HDMI or SD port, as well as Bluetooth. The graphic display would present accessible forms of graphics, such as charts, maps, photographs and other dynamic graphical content. This device also allows the user to draw on the surface; as your finger touches the screen, the pins rise and follow your touch, offering haptic feedback. The price of Graphiti has not been set yet.

Beltmap – The electronic guide dogThe Beltmap booth

www.beltmap.com

Beltmap was an interesting concept where an individual would wear a belt that offered navigational directions through vibrations. The Beltmap would connect via Bluetooth to the user’s Smartphone and would use Google maps (specifically) to get directions. As a user walks and turns, Beltmap can tell her direction and give her vibrations on the side where she needs to turn. Once she turns, the vibrations stop, indicating that she is supposed to walk forward until otherwise alerted. The unique aspect to this device is that it is not auditory. The fallback is that it is not yet able to work indoors/on Wifi and thus, could not work in airports or conferences, examples of loud areas where this device could be useful.

Dot Watch – Braille watchThe Dot Watch

www.dotincorp.com/store

Dot Watch is an attractive, Braille watch that allows you to sync with your Smartphone to check notifications, get alarms and see who is calling. The Dot Watch costs $359.00.

FACIL’iti – Websites’ accessibility

www.facil-iti.com

FACIL’iti offers a product that can make an existing website more accessible to individuals with vision loss and certain cognitive and mobility disabilities. This system inserts a profile module into an already existing site where an individual will specify his needs. Once the profile is complete, the software will adjust the site in a variety of ways to help make the site more accessible. For example, as a dyslexic user you can specify having an issue with b’s and d’s, and the software code will then identify those letters to you. Other examples of access aides are zooming capabilities, as well as making larger targets for those who have shaky hands. This product is approximately $400.00 to have it added to your website.

ICI Vision – Expanding the limits of visionThe ICI Vision booth

www.ici.vision

ICI Vision is a medical device company that has made a pair of glasses that claims to recover central vision due to retinal damage. As it was explained to me, the glasses record video of surrounding areas, and then they project light into the wearer’s eyes that restore images where once the user had blind spots. This device was not able to be tried on at the CES event as it was still in medical trials. The target audience seems to be especially small, and there was no research that could be referenced at their booth.

*ORCAM MyEye 2.0The OrCam 2.0

www.orcam.com

ORCAM MyEye 2.0 is a lightweight device that snaps onto any eyeglass frame magnetically. It reads printed or digital text, recognizes faces and identifies products and common items, such as currency. While wearing this device, you can point your finger ahead of you toward the item you want read, and the sound comes out of the back of the device near your ear. This device worked reasonably well and was nicely designed so that it is appealing and pretty discrete.

Project RayProject Ray booth with products displayed

http://project-ray.com

Project Ray provides technology designed to facilitate the operation of common Smartphones by people who have vision loss by allowing them to use any off-the-shelf Smartphones with their tactile stickers that have chips that facilitates phone functions. These stickers are a tactile add-on that have quick function and navigation purposes. The product’s main feature is a simple, unified user interface that is automatically imposed across all system functions, applications and services, using only two types of interactive functions working as an overlay on top of existing mobile applications. This booth was also the only one that had a disabled exhibitor, which was refreshing.

Vditory – Enabling visually impaired to do moreThe Vditory product

www.vditory.com

Vditory is a pair of glasses that describes the user’s surroundings, including telling him if he is indoors or outdoors and describing the objects around him. Also, if a face were detected, Vditory would tell the user the face’s age, gender, and emotions. The device has face recognition for common faces, as well as color and currency recognition. There is also a GPS tracker and navigational modes.

VFO

www.vfogroup.com

The VFO booth had a very sophisticated, new, multifunctional magnifier. The interface was large, color touch screens that allowed you to pinch-zoom selected areas. The device was also an OCR scanner where you could export data to a USB. Additionally, there was voice output to read selected text. The multifunction of this magnifier was very appealing. The cost of this item was approximately $4,600.00.

Physical Disability/Chronic Pain

Infinity Massage Chairs – Wellness for life

http://infinitymassagechairs.com/

The Riage X3 chairs by Infinity Massage Chairs come with automated massage programs, but they are also customizable for when you want to target specific muscle groups or areas. One massage ability of the Riage X3 chairs is their L-Track, which covers your upper body vertically down the natural S curvature of the spine then across the lower body horizontally for complete alleviation of spinal tension; this provided long lasting comfort. Another massage ability of the Riage X3 chairs is their reflexology foot rollers to cure fatigue in your feet. Its shifting motion also helps blood circulation. The price point for this item was approximately $7,700.00.

Kleiber Bionics – Bionic Prosthetic Hand

www.kleiberbionics.org

Kleiber Bionics was displaying a Bionic Prosthetic Hand for people with various degrees of amputation. It had tactile sensors and varying grasp patterns. The prosthetic was attractive and looked durable and flexible. Unfortunally, it was difficult to get more detailed information from the individuals at the booth.

*Oscar Senior – The easiest way for seniors to connect to the worldThe Oscar Senior booth and products

www.oscarsenior.com

Oscar Senior is a telecom device that integrates Smartphone technology into a large and easy to understand display. It facilitates communication between the user and their families and caregivers with shortcut buttons that use icons and images to help easily identify functions. Functions include video calling, applications and quick web navigation. It’s an attractive design with useful applications. While it is marketed to seniors only, I can see this functionality being useful for cognitive and mobility disabilities, as well.

*Oska Pulse – When pain stops, life begins.The Oska Pulse

www.oskawellness.com

Oska Pulse is a device that uses optimized PEMF to restore the electrical potential cells need to receive nutrients and oxygen, which stimulates cellular regeneration. This relieves pain and activates the body’s natural recovery process. Oska Pulse promotes capillary dilation, muscle ease and pain reduction. It can help dilate blood vessels, which may reduce inflammation, increase blood flow and release the body’s natural endorphins. Additionally, it helps break the cycle of inflammation and pain by activating a cell-specific negative feedback loop that promotes joint and muscle recovery. The device is attractive and able to be worn discreetly. The price of this device is approximately $400. I actually bought this device for my chronic pain, as it is an interesting, non-invasive alternative to similar products.

VIVY Heats – Canned heat the reaches deep

www.vivyheats.com

VIVY is a consumer pain management product that offers the deep heating properties of diathermy in a safe, simple-to-use device that’s small enough to carry anywhere. VIVY relieves pain, eases muscle tension and improves joint mobility around chronic pain or joint injuries. It is an attractive, portable device that has a Smartphone app accompaniment. However, VIVY is currently an investigational device only and is not yet available for sale in America.

WHILL – Electronic wheelchairThe WHILL wheelchairs

www.whill.us

WHILL electronic wheelchairs are compact, attractive, all-terrain personal mobility devices. They have a modern design that is comfortable and ergonomic. They have sensitive joystick controls and all-wheel drive functionality.

Hearing Loss

SignAll – We translate sign language. Automatically.

www.signall.us

SignAll is an automated sign language translating system. The SignAll team worked with Gallaudet to record a database of commonly used signs and then created software that could recognize ASL and convert it to text or vice versa. SignAll is still piloting this product and hopes to develop a mobile application version as well as have more language databases. This is an innovative idea for ASL translation with the potential for many future applications.

*SmartEar – …Sound you can seeThe SmartEar booth with devices on the table

www.smartear.fr

SmartEar is a lighting system for your home that offers alerts. Each light is portable and customizable. With the app accompaniment, you can set alarms with different colors, pulsing of different speeds and duration. The SmartEar devices can hear the auditory cue such as the doorbell, fire alarm or telephone and will display your customized lighted visual alert. Alerts can be queued to all SmartEar devices in the house or just one. This design is practical for use in homes and offices.

Olive Union: Next-Gen Hearing Aid – Consumer grade hearing aidThe Olive device

www.oliveunion.com

The Olive Union: Next-Gen Hearing Aid is a consumer-grade hearing aid. The Olive was very nice looking but seemed a bit big. The app accompaniment offers hearing self-test, customized hearing profile and an active hearing status management. The cost of one Olive device is approximately $100.

*Noveto’s Sowlo – Sound delivered directly to your ears, and your ears only.

http://www.noveto.biz/technology/

Sowlo technology focuses the audio content directly and solely into the user’s ears, all without any intermediate hardware such as earphones. The system constantly tracks the user’s position and dynamically focuses the audio beams to follow the user’s ears, creating unique abilities to consume sound at a higher volume in a personal manner without affecting others’ experiences.

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WID Welcomes New Board Members: 2018

For Immediate Release

Berkeley, CA, USA–The World Institute on Disability welcomes four new members to the Board of Directors.  These representatives from law and policy, technology and banking include:

  • Tali Bray, San Francisco, Chief Information Officer for IT for IT, Wells Fargo
  • Darlene Hemerka, Equal Justice Works Fellow, the Public Interest Law Center
  • Neil Milliken, Head of Accessibility & Digital Inclusion, Atos
  • Brian Scarpelli, Senior Policy Counsel, ACT | The App Association

“These four outstanding individuals bring to WID enhanced ability to view our work through a broader geographic lens and to strengthen the impact of our work by building on expertise from technology, industry, law and disability rights as we confront critical issues facing people with disabilities both domestically and internationally,” said WID CEO, Anita Aaron.

Photos of four new board members

Bray, Hemerka, Milliken, and Scarpelli join WID’s current board members:

  • Carol J. Bradley, J.D., Chair, Disability Compliance Officer, Sutter Health
  • Heather Dowdy, Vice Chair, Accessibility Program Lead, Microsoft
  • Claire Forrest, Public Relations Coordinator, MacPhail Center for Music
  • Kevin Foster, Director of HR Operations, Motorola Solutions, Inc.
  • Sheridan Gates, MED, PCC, Treasurer Executive Coach, Purpose At Work
  • Eli Gelardin, Secretary, Executive Director, Marin Center for Independent Living (MCIL)
  • Malcom Glenn, Public Policy Manager, Uber
  • Nanci Linke-Ellis, Partner, General Manager, Captionfish
  • Julie McCarthy, former Director of Human Resources, Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, San Francisco
  • Ari Ne’eman, Chief Executive Officer, MySupport.com
  • Michael Palmer, Senior Manager, Accessibility and Regulatory, T-Mobile
  • Debra Ruh, CEO, Ruh Global Communications
  • Frances W. West, IT Executive
  • Rachel S. Wolkowitz, J.D., Wilkinson Barker Knauer LLP

For more information about WID’s Board, go to the Meet Our Board page.

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